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Bloggers Ask: Is Lisbeth Salander a Feminist Hero?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The character of Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy raises questions about whether she's a feminist icon. In this excerpt from the book, "Men Who Hate Women and Women Who Kick Their Asses," Jessie Daniels looks at the debate.

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The character of Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy raises questions about whether she's a feminist icon. In this excerpt from the book, "Men Who Hate Women and Women Who Kick Their Asses," Jessie Daniels looks at the debate.
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The character of Lisbeth Salander Credit: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures and MGM.

(WOMENSENEWS)--At the same time that feminist bloggers are drawn to Lisbeth Salander, they resist reading Stieg Larsson or the Millennium trilogy as unequivocally feminist.

Well-known blogger PunditMom captures this ambivalence in the title of her entry, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Gratuitous Violence against Women or Shining a Light on the Problem We Want to Ignore?" She describes the central dilemma for feminist bloggers critical of the Millennium trilogy:

"The author, the late Stieg Larsson, didn't hold anything back in his descriptions about what was done to women throughout the book, including one of the main characters, Lisbeth Salander. Some say it's too much. But as someone who's been the victim of domestic violence, and as we continue to see stories on cable news about real life women like Stephany Flores and Yeardley Love who have died at the hands of their abusers, I think that giving readers around the world a look at this type of violence without sugar-coating it is a way that we can move forward with reducing violent acts against women. That's what I'm writing about over at my weekly Speaker of the House column. What do you think? Are graphic descriptions of violence against women just a gratuitous way to sell books or is it time to stare it in the face and not turn away?"

Here, PunditMom acknowledges the consciousness-raising potential of a book about sexual violence, yet simultaneously recognizes the inherent contradiction in this text given that graphic depictions of sexual violence increase sales and thus contribute to a culture of violence against women. This entry serves to illustrate what Saskia Sassen…refers to as the imbrication of the digital and the material--that is, how online worlds and offline reality overlap.

Digital Overlap